In a bid to speedily approve the N27.5 trillion budget for the 2024 fiscal year before the end of the year, the Senate yesterday commenced the consideration of the proposals without having the full details.
President Bola Tinubu had on Wednesday presented the estimates to the joint session of the National Assembly, during which he asked the lawmakers to pass the document in 30 days.
The budget passed its first reading in both chambers of parliament when President Tinubu presented it.
A day after the president’s presentation, the Red Chamber began the debate on the general principles of the proposals without getting the breakdown of the estimates, including allocations to different sectors.
Our correspondent observed that the senators before the debate commenced, were only distributed copies of the budget speech and the lead debate presented by the Senate Leader, Michael Opeyemi Bamidele.
This was a deviation from previous budget considerations in the parliament, where the lawmakers were given the breakdown of the budget estimates and convened in plenary to debate its general principles after studying the document.
Senator Kawu Sumaila (Kano) urged his colleagues to suspend the consideration of the budget pending when they were provided with the details.
He said, “We are representing interests here. Where are the budget details? We need to have the bill. We don’t have any idea about the sectoral allocations and what our constituents will be getting. It is very strange in the parliament.”
Also, Senator Mohammed Ogoshi Onawo (Nasarawa) said lawmakers’ contributions to the budget would be limited because there were no details of the proposals except what the president presented on Wednesday.
Senator Binos Dauda Yaroe (Adamawa) also cautioned against rushing the budget consideration, saying the two supplementary budgets earlier passed by the parliament were not scrutinised due to inadequate time.
He noted that “The development led to a series of injustices. We need fairness and equity in the allocation of projects.”
Deputy Senate President, Jibrin Barau, faulted the submissions of his colleagues, saying that the Senate had all it needed to proceed with the budget consideration.
He said, “During the second reading, it is only the merits and demerits of a bill that are debated, not the details.
“By virtue of our Rule 79, we have all it takes to conduct the second reading of the bill.”
Bamidele, while leading the debate, made presentations that were largely based on Tinubu’s budget speech.
He said he believed that all the proposals in the budget were laudable and would enhance the lives of citizens.
Similarly, the House of Representatives on Thursday began consideration of the 2024 appropriation bill presented by President Tinubu on Wednesday.
The consideration and debate on the general principles of the bill followed the earlier presentation of the appropriation bill before the House.
The Majority Leader of the House, Julius Ihonvbere moved for the second reading of the bill and it was seconded by Kingsley Chinda.
In leading the debate Ihonvbere stated that the budget proposal was a reality for looking into critical issues such as the availability of resources, options of funds, the performance of previous budgets, and the percentage of appropriations of available funds for all critical areas.